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An Interview with Sam Mason-Bell, Director of Lonely Hearts

by Mike Haberfelner

September 2019

Films directed by Sam Mason-Bell on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new movie Lonely Hearts - in a few words, what is it about?


Lonely Hearts is a dark satire about how far people will go for reality TV and how far the producers will exploit it.


Your personal thoughts on reality TV, and to what extent are they reflected in Lonely Hearts?


Personally I can't stand reality TV, it had good intentions when it started trying to base itself in psychology like the first season of Big Brother, but instead it left us with the vacuous whole that is the modern world. 


Other sources of inspiration when writing Lonely Hearts?


When me and Jessica Hunt wrote Lonely Hearts we looked at Hostel, Love Island, Wicker Man and Unreal. For me in particular the TV show Unreal was a big influence as we wanted to see the manipulation used in reality TV.


What can you tell us about your co-writer and co-director Jessica Hunt, and what was your collaboration like?


Jess is a good friend who before Lonely Hearts I had the pleasure of doing Conspiracy X with. We really wanted to do a project together and simply just sat down discussed through it, originally Jess was to play Sophie's role of the host but due to scheduling conflicts she ended up just directing. It was an easy enough experience, Jess took more control with Kirsty, Freddy and Claire's characters whereas I took the lead with Donny and Carol.


As a director, to what extent could you actually identify with Lonely Hearts' puppeteer Patricia - or any of the other characters for that matter?


Haha, that's a crazy question, to me this is a fairly nihilistic film, I'd say you could empathise with Claire's character, as she clearly doesn't know what shes walking into. But as far as identifying with the puppeteer would mean we found joy in torturing the cast, haha.


Do talk about your movie's approach to horror?


As this film is a docu-horror we wanted it to satirize reality TV, we didn't want the film to feel like a horror, not throwing some cheap deaths at the start, let the characters build on you and manipulation to slowly seep through.


What can you tell us about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand?


As we've done a good few found footage or docu-horror films like The Drug Tours and Industrial Animals, we wanted with this film to feel as if there was so many more cameras at every point watching all there moments, hopefully creating something that feels like they cannot escape.


Do talk about your cast, and why exactly these people?


We had a lot of choosing our cast, Chris Mills we had worked with several times, a truly great friend and good actor who really went all out for this one. Alice Mulholland had just worked with me and Jess on a film from TrashArts Killers, Desire by Martyna Madej so we knew she'd be comfortable with material. We needed actors that not only knew how to play stereotypes of reality TV but also to push themselves mentally and physically which they all did, especially Martin W. Payne with his, erm, ending...


You of course also have to talk about your location, and what was it like filming there?


We had a lovely bit of land all to ourselves... well sort of, we did have random people wandering over beyond curious and on the wrong shooting days. Otherwise it was a beautifully sunny few days out in the country, it felt real.


What can you tell us about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?


With such a risky nasty film, we wanted to make sure the cast and crew were as comfortable as possible, offering a chill area with drinks and smokes, the perfect esapism from the raw vulnerability needed to be shown in the film. Lack of tension and uncomfortability just led to a friendlier environment.


The $64-question of course, where can Lonely Hearts be seen?


Lonely Hearts is released across USA and Canada on Sept 17th via Darkside Releasing. Hoping for a UK release next year.


Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Lonely Hearts yet?


We have recently screened Lonely Hearts at a few festivals, and it certainly leaves a sense of shock and numbs people, which is exactly what you want from a film like this!


Any future projects you'd like to share?


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Next year we have the release of The Millennial Killer and The Truth Will Out with Darkside. Millennial Killer is a slasher -  an estate agent serial killer who likes to lure youths into thinking they're buying their first home - and The Truth Will Out is a docu-horror #metoo revenge witch flick. Both should be out in 2020.


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Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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Thanks for watching !!!



Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD